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The review was originally due to be published during the summer of 2015 and then the summer of 2016. The HSE’s 2015 National Service Plan included €1 million in funding to help implement its recommendations, which are understood to include the integration of acute and primary care ophthalmology services, and the moving of a significant amount of paediatric ophthalmology hospital appointments into the community.
The HSE Primary Care Division convened the Primary Care Eye Services Review Group (PCESRG) in August 2014 to review all primary care eye services currently provided to children and adults nationwide, including HSE directly-provided services and contracted primary care services.
The Group was tasked with providing a clear blueprint with recommendations for the future delivery of a high-quality, safe and consistent primary care eye service. A priority was to focus on an action plan to address immediate primary care paediatric eye service issues in the Dublin area.
Irish College of Ophthalmologists (ICO) representatives sit on the Review Group, together with representatives from various HSE departments, including the PCRS, public health, directors of nursing and orthoptists.
Mr Billy Power, President of the ICO, told MI that the College is eager to see the publication of the report in the coming weeks and is anxious to secure commitment from the Government and Department of Health that the necessary funding will be allocated to allow for its implementation.
“The primary eye care report will provide a blueprint for the delivery of primary eye care services, drawing on a model of care where stable patient cases will be looked after at community level. This transfer of care to the community will increase capacity for new patients to be seen in the hospital. It is of great concern to the ICO that ophthalmology has the longest waiting list for inpatient/day case surgery, according to the latest NTPF figures and increased access to theatre space will enable surgeons to tackle the current unacceptably high inpatient eye procedure list,” said Mr Power, who was also recently appointed as Clinical Lead for the HSE’s Ophthalmology Clinical Care Programme.
In response to queries from MI about the delay, a spokesperson for the HSE said: “The Primary Care Division is currently preparing a detailed Implementation Plan to support the Primary Care Eye Services Review Group Report, in line with the time frame set out for the HSE’s 2017 estimates process. The Report and the Implementation Plan will be finalised in Q4 of 2016.”